THE REEL DEAL: ALEJANDRO MONTOYA MARIN

On December 2, 2015, in Entertainment, Movies, by Joshua N. Melendez

 

Being in this industry I come across different writers, producers, rappers, singers, directors quite often. Some are talented, some not so talented, some are good, some are great and some are exceptional. Sometimes you come across someone or someone’s work and you instantly know they have what it takes to succeed on the next level. It’s very similar to watching a high school sports game, everyone out on the court of field has a certain level of talent which they play to; but every so often there will be that one player who is just better for whatever reason. Whether it be he is bigger, faster, stronger, or just has a God given gift, whatever the reason he stands out and sets himself apart from even the best of the competition. When a friend recommended I take a look at and talk to Alejandro Montoya in Albuquerque NM, I was expecting the norm, maybe a little better or maybe not. I got a chance to check out his reel on youtube and some music videos he did and I was not disappointed one at all. That is a complete understatement on my part, I was IMPRESSED to say the least. But music videos and movies are two different things, it’s much more complicated to write a good script and translate that to film than catching some great moments and angles in a music video. I then got the opportunity to see a short Alejandro did called “Low / Fi.” Wow! I hope everything goes right and we get this as a full length motion picture soon because it’s a great story. The potential this film has as well as Alejandro Montoya as a writer / director is through the roof. Remember the star athlete I referred to earlier? If you haven’t figured it out yet, that is Alejandro when it comes to film. I recently got the opportunity to sit down with Mr. Montoya for an interview:
Joshua Melendez (JM) Alejandro Montoya (AM)

JM: I was watching Low / Fi and was thinking that’s cool how you made the low-key scene paying homage to the “Untouchables.”

AM: Yeah they were even eating soup! I remember watching that scene for the first time, thinking: Oh sh!t don’t F around with DeNiro.

JM: So what’s going on with Low/ Fi?

AM: We’ve been going to several film festivals: New York, L.A. London, Oklahoma, Arkansas. We’re just trying to get it out everywhere. I think out of all the projects I’ve done it has the most potential of being something bigger.

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JM: The film kind of reminded me of “Juno” not the storyline but more of the way it was filmed.

AM: Exactly, I would go more with “Five Hundred Days of Summer.” I think that it has potential to become something bigger. It’s a film that has something that people can relate to. Like you were saying earlier with Mind Your Own Music, it’s one of the little lessons I had with Low / Fi. She tries so hard to not be herself because she thinks she’s failed until she realizes, this is who I am so.. F it. Something good happens or something else presents itself. Something I like about the story is that you should embrace who you really are. One of the things that most people don’t see is that the movie is about selfishness that we all have. If everyone is getting what they want than why not me? That’s the over line of what the movie is about.

JM: Right, because the grass is always greener on the other side. In the film there’s a scene where she is talking to all her friends and they are all married and seem happy.

AM: Everyone is happy, what’s wrong with me? Why not me? The truth is that there is nothing wrong with her. Ya know it’s like if someone says: I wanna see five different girls and you’re like why doesn’t one just stick if there’s five. Then you realize if you just stick to one, it just turns out well. You know what I mean? When you’re searching for it so hard it’s not going to happen.

JM: Where did the Low / Fi idea come from?

AM: I did a short film called “The Prince and the Musician” to get back at my ex girlfriend because I was incredibly hurt. After that I did a 48 hour called the Joneses. After that I wanted to do something that… well what can I do that’s not a drama romance but a romantic comedy? So I wanted to do something through the eyes of a woman written by me. The question was: Does this sound convincing or does it sound like a guy wrote it? Then I thought: How can I make guys want to see a romantic comedy? Instead of them being like: Na, that’s a F’n chick flick. So i tried the high-speed, the music, and the flashbacks.

JM: And she’s a pretty girl but she is kind of tom boyish.

AM: Exactly. I don’t know, I tried to do a romantic comedy that both men and women can identify with.

JM: It’s coming out great! You have to get this out!

AM: Thank you, and I’m trying man, I would love for that to be my first feature. I’ve been holding off on doing a first feature because I felt that I wasn’t ready but I really like the project and we’ve been getting a really good response and it’s been doing well. Hopefully we can get someone to invest in it. We did this first part on a low-budget and at the time it was crazy for me. Now I watch it and I think it’s very tamed because I wrote the script for the movie and it goes all out. It goes to World War II.

JM: And to re-enact that would be expensive.

AM: Yeah, that and the cast. The music needs to be perfect and shooting 4 days vs 24 days is a big difference. You have to feed everybody and wardrobe, it all adds up.

JM: I was looking at your full name: Alejandro Montoya Marin and it reminds me of the guy from the “Princess Bride” movie. Where he says a name like that then “You killed my father, prepare to die.”

AM: Haha I get that. I mention both of my last names because like I said when I was in the states I would never mention my second last name until my grandfather got upset with me because us Mexicans mention both of our last names. It’s part of our culture so, I was like: You’re right, so now I mention both of my last names.

JM: You have to represent everyone when you’re Hispanic. I was watching your reel on YouTube in particular a music video you did for a band called Stem Ivory. That video was dope! The song is good and watching it you captured so much in what was actually a simple video. It was just the band, crowd, and venue but you bring out the most of everything the way it was shot. The environment was really brought to life.

AM: Stem Ivory! They’re a local band and really cool people and sometimes we want to work with them on the budget that they have. We had three cameras going at once at one of their concerts. Their concerts are really people having fun, some drinks and jiving in a really positive way. So why don’t we do that? So instead of going out and having people act, let’s just get the cameras going and you’ll see what it is to go to their concert. It’s all true to who they are.

JM: It all looked just natural and fun. Do you approach a music video much differently from a film or short?

AM: Well, music videos, I think are a dying breed, especially now. I feel that people don’t want to pay for production.

JM: People don’t want to pay for anything.

AM: Exactly, now everyone has the iPhone and a computer where they can edit so they’re just like F it. I’ll do it. That or if they don’t feel comfortable then they’ll just get a friend to do it. I love music videos. I think if I could have a profession and live well, I think I would be like Mark Romanek and do a bunch of music videos than I would be the happiest man ever. How do I approach music videos? It’s very simple, it’s the budget. If it’s “we only have two thousand dollars.” Then we can do this. If it’s “we have ten thousand dollars.” Then perfect we can now do THIS. There was a band we wanted to do kind of a limbo western video but had nine grand. We could have wardrobe a whole western town where a guy is waking up in limbo, in the desert. So it’s about budget and the music and then you know the rhythm and the message they want to get across. I have a videos, there was one from Mexico called Sixty Tigers, its girls driving around with firecrackers here. They had no money, well they gave me money to feed people and stuff like that. It’s funny, the song is about political issues in Mexico but we’re shooting it in the states with girls having fun. It was like: Why not?

JM: It just worked.

AM: Exactly.

JM: You were born in Texas, raised in Mexico, and went to school in Canada. How did that shape you not only as a person but as a director?

AM: Well, that’s a great question. I think what helped me out is… I speak both languages so that helps. I think what helps me the most is that I’m able to understand both cultures. I’m very in touch with my friends from Mexico. So I’m able to make movies where they can be seen and enjoyed by both cultures or even three cultures. Canada is very similar to the states but there is some differences. What’s helped me by living in the three countries is that I can make something that’s marketable. I want to make something people can enjoy. I don’t want to do… because I’m not smart or talented enough, or I can’t do “Gone With the Wind” or “Casablanca” I can’t.

JM: But you want to do something universal for everyone.

AM: Well, let’s say accessible. I love blockbuster movies but I really enjoy movies we can all identify with.

JM: There’s different styles of storytelling. When you write do you base your stories more off personal experiences or imagination?

AM: For me, it’s a bit of everything. “The Prince and the Musician” was totally based off my pain and anger towards my ex girlfriend. “The Joneses” was like: How funny would it be that the perfect couple are homicidal maniacs. “Lo / Fi” is the side of everybody that no one wants to admit. I can’t guarantee that that’s true obviously but who doesn’t want to be loved? The character is based off me but very exaggerated but we all think about these things. Like when I was a kid I wanted to be a film director, when I was eleven or twelve that’s when it hit me. I remember everyone laughing at me, from my teacher to my parents and it’s painful. You see a lot of my family and they are in business or doctors or they do well and I’m the film guy who hasn’t done anything. But, I keep persisting.

JM: The lack of support, was that more demoralizing or motivating to you?

AM: I think both. I had a conversation with my girlfriend and I told her: If I don’t succeed at being a filmmaker, like if I don’t have films in the theatres than I failed in life. That’s my goal, I want to make a living doing this and I want to entertain people and I want to do something that I love. I love this. It’s demoralizing because you know people don’t believe in you but then it’s motivating because now it’s like I want to prove a point. So it’s demoralizing at the time but once they see the progress it becomes motivating.

JM: Have you made any of them believers yet?

AM: My dad cried when he watched one of my short films. Before he was very adamant about you’re screwing up, you’re making the wrong decision.

JM: Thats awesome. Now there’s a short that’s creating a bit of a buzz around here that you’re about to premier.

AM: “Monday”?

JM: Yes, what’s going on with “Monday”?

AM: It’s still being edited. It’s not there yet. We’re getting it to the right state so we can screen it.

JM: When is the screening?

AM: December 12th at the Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque NM doors open at 7. Hopefully people can go because there is only going to be one screening for now. Then we are going to do the film festival circuit and get it across the states.

JM: Can you tell us a little about “Monday” without giving away too much?

AM: It’s a romantic, comedy, action thriller of a guy that goes through the worst case of the Mondays.

JM: So it’s the opposite of Friday, both the day and the movie.

AM: Exactly, it’s going to be interesting on what to label it. A comedy, action? A comedy thriller? I really don’t know.

JM: For the screening in Albuquerque, where can people get tickets?

AM: It’s first come first serve that night. tickets are three bucks and you’ll be able to see a bunch of productions. Some trailers, music videos and shorts all that night.

JM: What is your main goal, not only with these films but big picture?

AM: To make a living doing what I love. Making films people enjoy and can relate to. That’s it.

JM: That being said, what’s next?

AM: We submitted “The Joneses” into the tv pilot contest for Santa Fe. We’re talking to people about possibly doing / finishing “Low / Fi” as a feature and we’re finishing up the editing for “Monday” so there’s three different options and we’re going to see which one gets nabbed first.

JM: Anything you would like to add or say to anyone?

AM: I really want to thank Ariel rakes of 8292 productions for helping me make all these projects come to life Without them it wouldn’t be possible. The cast and crew that have supported our projects and continue to share and tell their friends. No one is going to give us a shot if we don’t get our productions out there. So thanks to all the cast who continue to share and support our product. To the film festivals who support us… the indie filmmaker. Kristen Rakes… one of the gems of this state and to all the amazing actors of the state in NM. you guys are the face of NM film. you do us proud.
Thank you Alejandro Montoya for the interview and to Sarah Jones for setting it up. Be sure to check out Alejandro’s demo reel here: https://youtu.be/0zxriNBlXfs
Low / Fi trailer: https://youtu.be/SSjkADv845g
Stem Ivory music video: https://youtu.be/7t98_iFhlLo

 
Joshua N. Melendez

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